Category Archives: post-marathon

Race Report: RDC Marathon

First and foremost, I just have to give credit to the organizers of the RDC Marathon for a fantastic first year event. It’s not easy to pull off a race and they did an amazing job from start to finish with planning. If you are looking for a PR race or a race with super easy logistics, check out RDC for next fall.

My buildup to RDC was…unconventional. I got my long runs in but my workouts were severely lacking. I did a couple of tempo efforts here and there and a couple of small scale marathon pace workouts, but all I carried in with me was general fitness and experience. Dave’s plan was for me to capitalize on this and go out slowly and stay very, very comfortable until 20 miles.

Two days before the race (Friday), I stood in the OR for 16 hours. Friday is usually a pretty mellow OR day for us with a couple of elective cases but last Friday was NUTS and I was in the OR until 10 pm. Not optimal pre-race preparation. I got my rounds done on Saturday morning then headed to Chapel Hill to post up in my hotel room for the evening. Chatted with Dave for final race stuff, walked to the grocery store to find some palatable snacks and fell asleep around 9.

On Sunday morning, I woke up at about 4:45 and fumbled around trying to get ready. It was below freezing in Chapel Hill and the valet didn’t plan on having to defrost my car so I left a little later than my plan of 5:30. It was no matter as the race was only an exit down 40 and right off the highway. I pulled into the mall and found the start line and grabbed a spot approximately 20 feet from the Start/Finish. I donned my winter layers and went for my first 5 minute shakeout run, followed by a good stretch. There was nowhere indoors to be so after this, I got back in my car, turned it off and flipped through Instagram mindlessly until about 6:25 when I headed out for my second 5 minute shuffle and stretch. By now, the sun was up and people were beginning to mill about. I swapped my warmup clothes for throwaway clothes and headed for the start area. After some announcements and the Anthem, we were off!

The first two miles of the course loop around the mall and are relatively flat with a couple of rollers. My plan was to run the first two miles in about 7:30 pace so my mantra for these was “easy girl, easy.” I tried to find a comfortable pace and not push at all, which was not entirely easy given that I was freezing in my shorts.

At mile 2, we turned north onto the Tobacco Trail for the first half out and back, which went out 6.5 miles before turning. This was my old stomping ground from when I lived in Chapel Hill so I knew many of our landmarks on this half. My plan for the remainder of the first half was no faster than 7:15 so I just tried to settle in and relax. Although the course is relatively flat, the “out” section is actually gradually downhill so I had to be careful not to go too fast. Toward the turnaround, I started passing runners and felt smooth, strong and happy. At the turnaround, I was able to see all the other people ahead of me and figured that I was in first place for women in the full with a woman about 4 minutes back from me. More on this assumption later…

We made the turn and begin to climb back up the incline we’d just come down for a couple of miles. I forced myself to relax and not fight the hill and just focused on reeling people in as a means to staying entertained. Somewhere around 8, I passed two women who I assumed were in the half. I initially tucked in behind them just to have company but they were slowing down a bit too much so I went on alone. I should note that by this time, the weather was PERFECT in the high 30s and still. We rolled towards the Start/Finish area again where the half would turn off which took me up a bit of a hill and then down the other side.

Once we headed south onto the second out and back, there was a fairly significant downhill and I saw 5:40 pace on my watch and had to put the brakes on. I was feeling great but also knew that mile 13 is a long way from mile 26. Right around here, a biker pulled up and said “I think you’re my first woman, I’m your lead biker.” Jess ended up being an awesome companion for the next 13 miles. He’s a multisport athlete but has done a couple of marathons and nailed the balance of conversation and quiet. We headed out towards the turnaround at ~20 and I felt amazing through mile 19. This is where I made a tactical error (obviously realized after) in reading the course. I started to feel more clunky during 18 and kept pressing without realizing that I was on a pretty significant uphill false flat. As soon as we turned, I realized it was downhill and my pace dropped again. I had wasted energy, however, and paid for it on the run home. At the turnaround, I was also able to see my competition. Much to my surprise, the woman I had passed around mile 8 was only about 4 minutes behind me and looked strong. She had a shirt on still but I had assumed she was a half marathoner, not a full runner. This spooked me as I wasn’t feeling awesome and didn’t want to give my win up over the last 6 miles.

Miles 20 through 23 were just less fun and I was over running although I took advantage of the downhill slope of 22 to drop one of my fastest miles of the day. Around 24, Jess said “Put your head down and win this race,” which was just the kick in the rear I needed to hear. I got up the last set of hills (seriously?!?!? Flat course and the only hill is at 25?!?!?!?!) and turned into the finish area and gave the last 400 meters whatever I had left. I crossed just over 3:10 as the overall women’s winner, 6 minutes ahead of second.

All in all, it was the perfect day for running a marathon with incredible weather and a fast course. My nutrition was excellent and I was able to take gels and hydration throughout the race without trouble. My only regret is that I wasn’t able to get there in better shape because this is definitely a PR course. Obviously 3:10 is far, far off my PR but I’m extremely proud of this race for a few reasons. First, I respected my body and executed my race plan. Second, my splits were very even and I squeezed every second out of the course. Third, I did this on crummy training as a General Surgery Intern. Finally, this is my first overall marathon win which accomplishes one of my bucket list goals!!

Not only did Jess bike with me for 13 miles and help me open my post race beer, he also snapped this photo. Full service, I tell ya.

Mile 1: 7:25

Mile 2: 7:24

Mile 3: 7:13

Mile 4: 7:10

Mile 5: 7:12

Mile 6: 7:10

Mile 7: 7:10

Mile 8: 7:10

Mile 9: 7:18

Mile 10: 7:09

Mile 11: 7:06

Mile 12: 7:13

Mile 13: 7:09

Mile 14: 7:01

Mile 15: 7:09

Mile 16: 7:10

Mile 17: 7:08

Mile 18: 7:16

Mile 19: 7:12

Mile 20: 7:21

Mile 21: 7:24

Mile 22: 7:04

Mile 23: 7:42 (Hissy fit, not hill…)

Mile 24: 7:19

Mile 25: 7:19

Mile 26: 7:40 (Hill back to the start area)

Mile 26.2: 6:46

3:10:18 Gun, 3:10:16 Chip.

Changing Gears

One of the hardest things post-marathon is finding your speed again. The marathon, when well executed, is a very long run at a sort of hard pace. Workouts are usually tempo runs or marathon pace chunks of long runs and true speed work is saved for the very end and serves more to sharpen up the legs than confer any actual speed. Coming off of Mohawk Hudson, I am very fit. And very slow.

If I was just going into the winter season, this wouldn’t be a problem and I’d have time to remind my legs that I don’t always have to run 6:40 pace. However, I’m headed to Las Vegas next weekend to attempt to race a half marathon, so 6:40 won’t do. In the past two weeks since I’ve really been training again, I’ve had a lot of frustrating runs where despite my best “fast” efforts, I’m settling right into 6:30 to 6:40 pace.

I finally turned a (tiny little) corner this week. On Wednesday, I hit the track for 3 by mile at T pace and happily settled at 6:04 pace, followed by a mile of 200 ins and outs at 5:15 pace. Today I paced an athlete to her first sub 21 5K (Go Flan!!!!!) which was 6:40 pace (again), but did manage to kick at the end and shake out some more junk. I was also happy to find that 6:40 pace felt like jogging and that the 3 miles flew by. Good sign for next weekend.

In terms of next weekend, my “absolute best day ever, jump around at the finish” goal would be to break 1:20 (6:08 pace). My more realistic but still challenging goal will be to PR (under 1:21:45 so 6:14 pace). My non-time based goal is to execute a smart race; controlled through 6, cruise to the turnaround a little after 9 then send it once we’re back on the Strip heading home.

Anyone else struggle to convince their legs to turnover after the marathon? What are your tricks for reminding your legs that they can fly?

Week in Review: 10.27.14 to 11.2.14

Monday: 6 miles easy.

Tuesday: Workout! 2 by 6 minutes at T pace, 3 by 3 minutes at I pace and a mile of 200 ins/out plus a leg lift at the gym.

Wednesday: Prorated off day, 7 miles. Ridiculously sore.

Thursday: 4.5 mile stagger through Burlington.

Friday: 9.5 mile run with Annie. Much colder than I anticipated!

Saturday: 7 mile run with Will in the sleety-cold.

Sunday: 11 mile run with 15 at T pace in the wind.

Total: 47 miles.

October Total: 146 miles.

Post-marathon progress is slow! I’m working to balance needing to get quality work in for Vegas (and for whatever I do in the winter) and respecting my body’s continuing recovery. It’s not easy! I’m still fighting a cold (sure sign that my immune system is still down from the marathon) and dealt with serious soreness this week after lifting for the first time since taper started. I’m also dealing a bit with the “blahs.” Somehow picking running routes and getting out the door is really challenging for me recently. I’m luck to have running friends to rope into going with me but it’s still a struggle.

Anyone else struggling to get their mojo back post marathon?

Week in Review 10.20.14 to 10.26.14

It’s rough trying to get back into the swing of things after a big race, even when you have another race just ahead. It’s even rougher when you get an atrocious cold the day you are ready to start doing workouts again. I spent Tuesday through Friday down for the count with a head cold which proceeded to a chest cold and racking cough over the weekend. I’m still running easy but wasn’t able to get a workout in last week unfortunately.

Monday: 2.5 Miles

Tuesday: 2.5 Miles and full body lift.

Wednesday: Warmup, 1.5 miles of 200 meter ins and outs, cooldown. Total of 6.3 miles. Felt pretty good to shake it out but quads are definitely still tender.

Thursday: 6.3 mile run.

Friday: 2 mile run.

Saturday: 4 miles at the State Meet.

Sunday: 12 mile long run. Feeling almost normal.

Total Miles: 35.5

Thanks to my high mileage earlier in the cycle, I don’t have to worry too much about endurance between now and Vegas (20 days!) Instead, I’ll be focusing on getting back into some tempo runs and getting my speed sharpened up.

Week in Review 6.16.14 to 6.22.14 (In which I finished the first year of medical school)

Somehow the first year of medical school is done. It seems like just yesterday that Will and I were riding the bus in suits for the first day and overwhelmed by the enormity of the task ahead. But on Friday, we took our last exam and are now officially M2s. I expected to be thrilled to be done but instead find myself a little overwhelmed. I quipped earlier in the week that medical school is a lot like the marathon; you put an enormous amount of preparation into it and when you cross the finish line, there’s a little bit of a letdown as you lose the thing you’ve been focusing on for so long.

Regardless, we made it and I even manage to run quite a bit for a finals week.

Monday: Decided to be a grownup and aquajog for 75 minutes. Felt good and foot seems to be much happier.

Tuesday: 9.8 miles easy through the Fairgrounds.

Wednesday: 9.6 miles easy in Intervale and Ethan Allen Homestead.

Thursday: Planned off day. 8.6 prorated.

Friday: 9.4 miles with Will as our post-exam celebration. We’re weird.

Sunset on Friday night when I actually had time to go sailing post-exam!

Sunset on Friday night when I actually had time to go sailing post-exam!

Saturday: Unplanned off day. Just totally overwhelmed from the last week of school.

Sunday: 16 miles. Took it easy in the heat of the day but the foot feels good and my legs feel great.

It was a seriously warm long run; required some cold water sitting to bring my core temp down.

It was a seriously warm long run; required some cold water sitting to bring my core temp down.

Total: 62 miles

A little low on miles but my average daily miles were good. Looking forward to next week when I have time to do a morning and afternoon run plus all the extras. Bring on 8 weeks of living like a pro!

The Student Becomes the Teacher

Last Saturday, I went to the State Meet to cheer my chickies on. I figured they needed me there for another familiar voice as they ran around the track. It turns out that I needed them. As long as I’ve been coaching them, I’ve enforced the rule that one can’t be mad about a PR and that you can’t control bad weather or how anyone else runs. I’ve heard myself say these things a hundred times but wasn’t sure that they heard them. It turns out that they did, because all of them came up throughout the day to remind me that I don’t get to be disappointed with my run at VCM because it was a PR, because the weather wasn’t in my control, because my run had nothing to do with anyone else’s run. And they were/are right.

VCM was a 7 minute PR over a year ago and an almost 20 minute PR over my first marathon five years ago. That’s a lot of time. It’s okay to learn from mistakes that I made during the race, but it’s not okay to dwell on and be disappointed in my performance. As such, we move on.

So what went well at VCM?

1. Nutrition. We nailed it. I had plenty of energy, my stomach felt great and I never had foggy moments of glycogen depletion. For no other reason, this makes VCM a complete success because nutrition can be such a wild card. Taking this element off the “to-do” list is a huge accomplishment.

2. Patience. The women’s field went out fast. Really fast. And I didn’t go with them. I stuck to my race plan and felt great throughout the entire race. I didn’t have a lot of drive to do much at the end (the word that keeps coming up is bored), but I moved from 14th at the 10K to 9th at the finish, and that doesn’t count at least two invited women who dropped out. I worked hard throughout the early parts of the race to remind myself that the marathon is a long race and that anything can happen between the start and 26.2 miles.

3. Recovery. After my first marathon, I was so sore that I could barely walk for a week. Last year, it took me over an hour to walk half a mile in Waterfront Park. This year, I was walking and talking almost normally after a shower and a snack. Although my shins were inexplicably sore on Monday and Tuesday, I was able to walk without a hitch by Wednesday. I also took an entire week off of running, which I often don’t do. Even this week, I’m keeping runs short and still taking rest days to let my body and mind heal.

Sisterhood of the Traveling Running Shorts

There’s no doubt in my mind that I would not be successful at and love running like I do without the women I’ve trained with over the years. From my teammates in high school to my training partners now, I am surrounded and supported by amazing female runners who push me along.

Watching the Women’s marathon yesterday was a blast. The definition of “ain’t over Til it’s over,” the best women in the world came to play and put on a gutsy show on a rainy, technical course.

I had to laugh as Shalane and Kara finished, however, because it was reminiscent of Christine and I after VCM. Both in a bit of a fog, I crossed the line where Christine was waiting with an impatient official who wanted her to keep moving. Through my pain I heard her say, “no! I’m waiting for my friend.” Our hug was pitiful and hunched over, but the only reaction after countless training runs and a 26.2 mile test. When I saw Kara pick up Shalane today and wrap her arms around her, I knew just what they were feeling.

Shalane and Kara, we are all so proud.

20120805-205113.jpg

Sh@& Runner Girls Eat

It took me a remarkably long time to bounce back after VCM this year. Only in the past week have I started to feel like my legs have spring and like I might be fast again. A big part of that was taking a frank look at my nutrition; for me, training and nutrition are linked. When I train hard, I eat well. When I’m not running much, however, I tend towards crappy food that makes me feel horrible. So over the past two weeks, I’ve worked hard to get back in a nutrition groove and it’s working. Even on the road last week, I stopped to get fruits, veggies and yogurt to snack on. And last night, I returned to my Sunday routine of making all my carbs and veggies for the week. Here’s hoping the recovery continues…

20120731-001457.jpg

20120731-001442.jpg

20120731-001433.jpg

20120731-001421.jpg

So Much For Relaxing

I had grand plans to take June off to recuperate from the MCATs, the semester, pulling together my AMCAS application and the marathon, but that plan never came to fruition. Instead, I’m working two jobs, coaching and trying to get back to training, all well trying (mostly unsuccessfully) to keep up with friends and enjoy the summer in Burlington.

The bad news is, I’m exhausted. 70 hour work weeks plus coaching mean I have limited time for all the random things that need to get done, like laundry and coordinating team racing for GMAA. It’ll be worth it, however, to be able to take time off next summer right before medical school.

The good news is, I’m getting back into running and despite still experiencing a lot of fatigue that is out of line with my training load, everything feels good and strong. I did a mile repeat workout last Saturday for my first workout back and despite some seriously awkward form for the first mile managed a 5:54 and a 5:41. It was nice to have the second mile feel much better than the first! I’m aiming for about 30 miles this week and then will settle in at 45 to 50 for the rest of the summer.

My first race is next week too, at the Clarence DeMar 5K on the 4th. While I’m excited to take a crack at a PR, I’m more excited because I get to share the race experience with my sister and aunt who will also be joining for the event. Last year, Clarence DeMar was hot and humid, making for a miserable slogfest. I’m fully prepared for another hot, sticky day but excited to do some short, fast running again.

One of the reasons my training load is relatively low this summer is because I’m focusing on re-building (or perhaps building for the first time) strength in my legs. To do this, I’m hiking and trail running. Both build strength and stability which will come in handy as my miles build again through the fall.

Despite my exhaustion, I’m excited to be feeling recovered and to find that nothing was permanently broken. Now if only I can find a few hours to sleep…

Error Analysis

One of the frustrating parts of the marathon is that there are so many moving pieces, you can execute a flawless plan and still encounter the unexpected. While I am by no means disappointed with my performance at VCM, I am still naturally inclined towards the error analysis, the “what happened.”

Training Cycle

By the time Christine and I had showered and made it to the barbeque, we’d both come up with the same conclusion about our training cycle: not enough miles at MP and not enough tempo work in general. While we were good about adding marathon pace into our long runs, we weren’t doing enough miles at the pace (maximum of 6) and we stopped doing tempo runs right around the time of New Bedford.

From a mileage perspective, I had consistent mileage, but no real peaks and cut back weeks. Because of school and MCAT preparations, I never got the 3-1 ratio that I typically follow. Instead, I ran a consistent 55 to 60 miles a week for almost 16 weeks. In the next cycle, I want to focus on ramping up miles for 3 weeks, then getting a true cutback week instead of steady mileage.

Race Day

The only controllable error on race day was my pace. While the first mile was right on, I think the overall pace in the first few miles was a tad too fast. I averaged a 6:47 pace through mile 10, when the goal pace should have been more like 6:52 to 6:55. While this doesn’t seem like a major difference, I suspect it was the reason things fell apart in the later miles. The slight increase in effort between a 6:52 and a 6:47 likely taxed my legs just enough to introduce me to the wall. Perhaps a more telling statistic is that my average pace went from 6:47 to a final 7:05, most of which occurred over the last 6 miles.